Legislative committees are busy during this third week of session hearing, perfecting, and exec’ing as many bills as possible before they reach policy committee cutoff. One of the bills that have made it into the Rules Committee is HB 1620 sponsored by Rep. Leavitt. This bill requires the Military Department to develop and implement a grant program for the purpose of assisting political subdivisions with the costs of responding to community needs during periods of extreme weather conditions or in situations of severe poor air quality from wildfire smoke.

The bill was amended in committee to make eligible for grants situations of severe poor air quality from wildfire smoke. Grants can be awarded if the costs are incurred by communities that have demonstrated a lack of local resources to address community needs, and if the costs are incurred for the benefit of socially vulnerable populations. Socially vulnerable populations include, but are not limited to, individuals with disabilities, individuals without vehicles, older adults, individuals with low incomes or experiencing homelessness, and individuals with limited English proficiency.

  • Activities that are eligible for reimbursement include:
  • Establishing and operating warming and cooling centers;
  • Transporting individuals to warming and cooling centers;
  • Purchasing supplies needed for colling of congregate living settings;
  • Providing emergency temporary housing; and
  • Other related activities necessary for life safety during a period of extremely hot or cold weather, or in situations of severely poor air quality from wildfire smoke

We continue to be supportive of this bill and appreciate the addition of grants for poor air quality from wildfire smoke. Any additional funds to help address costs associated with emergency weather situations are beneficial to counties as severe weather is not necessarily a situation for which counties can predict, plan, or budget

The bill remains subject to funding and we hope that the legislature will fully fund this grant program to assist local governments during these impactful events.